Lambda Legal Applauds HHS Action to Reverse Trump Anti-Transgender Healthcare Discrimination Rule; Encourages Further Action

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May 10, 2021

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would reverse a Trump era policy and interpret and enforce the nondiscrimination provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Section 1557, and Title IX, consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, to ensure protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Senior Attorney and Health Care Strategist for Lambda Legal, issued the following statement:

“The law is clear, discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited as a form of unlawful sex discrimination, including in health care. Today, the Biden administration and HHS provided some needed clarity after the Trump administration did everything it could to undermine and muck up the law to target and hurt our communities, in particular, transgender patients. We applaud HHS for taking this important and necessary step, which is ever more important during the global Covid-19 pandemic. However, the significant step taken today is just one step in what is a long road to undo the undermining of health care protections for all people under the Trump administration. Today’s announcement does not address significant aspects of the Trump-era rule that we and others have challenged in court. We encourage Secretary Xavier Becerra and the Biden administration to take additional steps to ensure that all LGBTQ people are completely covered wherever and whenever they may encounter discrimination during some of the most delicate and precarious moments of their lives, when seeking health care.”

Today’s action reverses the attempt by the Trump administration to carve out LGBTQ people from nondiscrimination regulatory protections. However, the Trump rule also limited the remedies available to people who face health disparities, limited access to health care for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), unlawfully incorporated religious exemptions, and dramatically reduced the number of health care entities and insurance subject to the rule, all of which today’s action does not address. 

On June 22, 2020, Lambda Legal and Steptoe & Johnson LLP filed a lawsuit against the Trump-era rule under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, was filed on behalf of: Whitman-Walker Health; the TransLatin@ Coalition and its members (including leaders of affiliated organizations like Arianna’s Center in Florida); Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center; the Los Angeles LGBT Center; GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality; AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists; and four individual doctors. On September 2, 2020, the court in Whitman-Walker Clinic enjoined two key aspects of the Trump-era rule, namely, its elimination of the definition of discrimination on the basis of sex and its incorporation of Title IX’s religious exemption. The court also held that the broad coalition of plaintiffs Lambda Legal represents has standing to challenge most aspects of the rule. The case remains pending.

Learn more about Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS here:

See Lambda Legal’s Know Your Rights: Health Provider Discrimination, a resource for transgender and gender nonconforming people by visiting.

If you experience discrimination in a health care setting, let us know via our Health Care Tracker by visiting